William Hague: Hammond plan is best way to stop a Brexit 'disaster'
William Hague has given his backing to Philip Hammond's proposals for a transitional Brexit deal, claiming it is the best way to stop Brexit becoming a "disaster" for the UK.
The Chancellor has been involved in a Cabinet spat after claiming there was a "broad acceptance" of the need for a transition deal that could go on until 2022.
Brexiteer Liam Fox said over the weekend that he had not been consulted on the idea and that any such decision "has to be an agreement by the Cabinet. It can’t just be made by an individual or any group within the Cabinet.”
Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague warns that a combination of sluggish economic performance, emboldened EU negotiators and a political stalemate in Westminster could lead to Brexit becoming "the greatest economic, diplomatic and constitutional muddle in the modern history of the UK".
The former Foreign Secretary argued that Mr Hammond's transition proposal would deal with many of the potential pitfalls of leaving the bloc.
"What is quite obviously needed is an approach that cuts through all of these problems simultaneously; that makes the negotiations simpler, reduces the need for rushed legislation, reassures the business world and commands wide support across Parliament.
"Is it possible to do that? Yes, and the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, deserves great credit for putting forward such an approach. He has evidently been trying to persuade his Cabinet colleagues that we should be seeking to stay in the EU single market and customs union during a transition and “implementation” phase lasting to 2022, followed by a free trade deal with our former partners after that.
"This is seen by longstanding advocates of leaving as a “soft” position or a climbdown. But in reality it is a plan to rescue Brexit from an approaching disaster."
'TURNING AGAINST BREXIT'
And he issued a firm warning to eurosceptics in his own party that a chaotic approach risked alienating the British public from the Brexit project.
The Tory peer said rising inflation, spiralling debt and a lack of business confidence could all combine to derail the process.
"There is a fresh danger – that with the referendum behind them, the enthusiasts for Brexit will underestimate the danger that things could go so badly wrong that the country turns against the people trying to deliver what it voted for, or even the idea itself."